The real measure of self-growth

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

by Gwen Randall-Young

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – C.G. Jung

When we say, “This is who I am,” what does it really mean? We have our own perceptions of who we are, but they can be biased, affected by a critical eye through which we see ourselves or by the blind spots that prevent us from seeing our own unconscious motivations or reactions.

Further, we are not discrete entities unto ourselves. We always exist in relation to something or someone: our jobs, nature, where we live, sunlight, parents, children, partners, friends, political parties, groups. The list is endless.

We also may react differently to different people and situations. We may show anger and polarity with a partner or child, but show only kindness and gentleness to a grandmother or best friend.

Naturally, most of us like to define ourselves by who we are when we are at our best. However, there may be times when we come from a less evolved place – times when we go into polarity, anger, judgment and even shaming.

Generally, we justify our behaviour by the fact that the object of our disdain somehow deserves it. We may see them as “less than” us. We can also do this in relationships when we think we are right and the other is wrong. Still, everyone deserves the right to be heard and to express their opinion.

It seems ubiquitous in our world that these polarities are formed and played out at every level – from the neighbourhood to the international scene – and they seem to arise when we do not see others as our equals.

You may say, “But we are not all equal!” Some are smarter, prettier, have more wealth, more athletic ability, more fame or are even more evolved. This is not what equality is about. Seeing others as our equal means seeing they are just as important as we are, and to understand we are all at different places in our circumstances, growth and awareness. We do not see a kindergarten student as less equal – in this sense – than a university student.

In terms of personal growth or spirituality, some are at a kindergarten level and some at a post-doctoral level. We need not judge this level of growth any more than we would judge someone’s academic level. Yes, some are more advanced, but that does not make them better than one who is just struggling to survive, much less grow.

We may not be aware of the ways we speak to or act towards others that come from a place of superiority. If we find ourselves criticizing, judging or gossiping, we are really making them “less than” us, making it easier to simply discount them.

Evolving takes work. It is more than reading about spirituality or attending workshops. It is being aware of situations or circumstances where our ego is driving the process. A client who was excited about her spiritual path once spoke of how evolved she was becoming, but had a husband who “just didn’t get it!” and rolled her eyes for emphasis.

The measure of our growth and evolvement is not how many workshops we have attended. It is what we do in our most challenging moments and how we treat others day-to-day.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Giving and receiving artfully

by Joseph Roberts

• Gift giving on your mind? Mulling over your options for the season? There are many unique ways to give. Gifts that heal or bring the recipient into a deeper relationship with themselves, such as seminars, workshops, personal coaching, and healing sessions, are thoroughly appreciated.

Consider a gift that supports our local community rather than sending your dollars across international borders. Give a treasured experience, rather than just more stuff soon sent to a landfill or a storage locker after the next decluttering frenzy. There are a number of services, events or products right here in this edition of Common Ground that will make a memorable impact on the lives of those closest to you.

Also you can give the gift of yourself by volunteering.

What about a gift to our Home and Native Land? The Canadian Government could be receiving billions in lost revenues now escaping into offshore tax havens. Some of Canada’s “elite” do not pay taxes that would support our economy. A conservative estimate indicates that 80 billion dollars of tax are not being collected from the super rich of our country. That would be a great gift to our economy.

Remember much of this wealth creation was only possible because the infrastructure used was originally financed by public purses, so it’s only fair the rich pay their honest share.

Even with the recent P3s (Private-Public Partnerships) the public taxpayer is left holding the debt.

A blog by Keith Reynolds states: “For the main part, in British Columbia we have not even begun to ask questions about these P3 projects. Since 2002 the BC government has crafted P3s for roads, bridges, hospitals and water treatment plants.  Under the deals the private sector puts up all or part of the capital costs in return for a 35 year contract with guaranteed inflation protection to manage a public sector facility.”

These are complicated deals, not just simple sales transactions with a buyer on one side and a seller on the other. Reynolds concludes, “… it is only a matter of time before we begin to see here the same cracks that are appearing in the UK’s P3 projects. Our roads, bridges and hospitals are becoming chips in the international financial casino and BC taxpayers will not win at that table.” They privatized BC Rail and BC Gas. Privateers are now gunning for BC Hydro.

BC’s disgraced premier ends up as Canadian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. Maybe a plum for selling BC’s public assets cheap to foreign venture capitalists. Upping the game globally is FIPA, Harper’s new Foreign Investment Protection Agreement negotiated secretly offshore in Russia.

Mark Carney, head of the Bank of Canada, a Goldman Sachs alumni, just got the nod to become head of the Bank of England. Jolly good, eh?

Back home Bill Reid’s sculptures Raven and the First Man, and, The Spirit of Haida Gwaii got dumped from our $20 dollar bill and replaced with a war memorial. The quote on the beautiful old bill read “Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?” – Gabrielle Roy. Go read it while you can. “There’s some kind of peculiar irony in the fact that a statement of the indispensability of the arts is inscribed right on our money, when money is the very thing that the arts in Canada are so short of … in BC it seems that the arts and money coincide mainly on paper – on the twenty dollar bill and nowhere else. BC doesn’t just receive the least provincial funding per capita of any Canadian province – it’s dead last, and by a very, very large margin. … $6.50 per capita compared to the $26 per capita national provincial average.” local artists stated.

Well folks, its not even on the money any more. The new plastic $20 features the Vimy Ridge war memorial with poppies sprouting form the zero. No mention of the arts. Not even a line of poetry “Lest we forget”.

So remember how precious you and others are.

Many blessings and wonderful gifts of the season.